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Milan Talkies review: Ali Fazal – Shraddha Srinath’s film is predictable, but breezy

Milan Talkies: Tigmanshu Dhulia’s Milan Talkies is a bit stretched, but in the end, hero (Ali Fazal) meets heroine (Shraddha Srinath) and Bollywood love story is made!

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Tigmanshu Dhulia’s Milan Talkies is predictable, sweet but a bit too long. So it might lose the attention of the audience. Following the typical Bollywood track, it deals with many things we’ve already seen. But Ali Fazal and Tigmanshu (who plays Ali’s father in the film) save the day. The film set in the heartland of India, follows the track right of small-town dreams, aspirations, love and a few more things. But the problem begins when everything else is put aside and only the love story takes center-stage. Read our full Milan Talkies review to know what we felt while watching the movie

What’s Milan Talkies about? Set in Allahabad, it is a story of a young man Anirudh aka Annu, who wants to become a Bollywood director. Running an exam-cheating-racket is a side-business for him, which the film deals with loosely, because it is normal, according to them. Meanwhile, he falls in love with a Brahmin girl, Maithili. They try to elope, but get caught. The film takes a three-year leap and the tables have turned. Annu is now a successful director and Maithili gets married to a local goon, who is impotent and an epitome of the evil husband. How their love story gets into the second innings, how they manage to meet again and finally get together forms the second half.

Yay: Let’s just appreciate that Tigmanshu has been able to bring actors like Sanjay Mishra, Ali Fazal, Ashutosh Rana and Rajiv Gupta under one roof. Ali Fazal  can now easily pass off as a small-town boy from North India. Seems like his last web outing Mirzapur was his workshop for Milan Talkies. But he is a great actor and you have to appreciate him for that. Shraddha Srinath in her first celluloid outing is decent, but has a lot to work on. Ashutosh Rana, Sanjay Mishra and Rajiv Gupta get their roles right. Sikander Kher on the other hand, will be getting calls to play villain after this one for sure.

While analysing and reviewing Milan Talkies a bit more, we feel it gets the tone right. Tigmanshu for himself, has written a character that is contradictory to everyone else around him, and he wins. Young guys consider ads coming on their YouTube content as a validation that their work is great. Or thinking that Mumbai is the only place that can appreciate their calibre, Tigmanshu as director gets that fact right.

Nay: Without being too much critical in this Milan Talkies review, we must point out a few things we didn’t like. Firstly, with this cast of amazing actors under one roof, it is the maker’s job to bring out their A-game. Which didn’t happen much! Secondly, the timeline of the film is a major problem. The first film they watch together is Badmaash Company which released in 2010. The film takes a three-year leap and comes to 2013 where Race 3 is screening in the theatre, which released in 2018. Please explain? Thirdly, the 140 minutes or two-and-a-half hour run-time is a bit too long and stretched. Lastly, cinematography by Hari K. Vedantam is abrupt. Random cuts, unnoticed flashbacks and too much ‘zoom in’ makes it look like five episodes of daily soap merged into one.

CineBlitz Verdict: Milan Talkies isn’t a brilliant film, but a light hearted drama that Bollywood lovers might endorse! There are flaws, however, Tigmanshu has managed to blow some life in his dream project, and his dedication has made it possible after so many years. Watch it if you are an Ali Fazal fan or if you just want to aimlessly chill a bit.

Star rating: 2.5 stars

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PM Narendra Modi Review: The Omung Kumar directed biopic releases at an apt time- when PM Modi secures his electoral win!

Vivek Anand Oberoi nails the portrayal of PM Narendra Modi to the T.

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The biopic of PM Narendra Modi has been fraught with controversy from the word go. The 136-minute film is supposedly releasing in 23 Indian languages. Beginning shooting in January 2019, the film was shot and readied for release in record time, but came up against numerous obstacles, when the Goa unit of the student wing of the Congress Party, wrote to the Election Commission to ban the screening of the film, claiming that it  violated the model code of conduct of elections. The Supreme Court of India rejected the plea saying that the Election Commission needed to address this issue. Originally scheduled to release on 12th April, the EC stopped the release of the movie till the elections were over, to avoid any risk, saying that any biopic that had the potential to disturb the level playing field during the elections could not be displayed in the electronic media.  And so the film release date was shifted to 24th May, and what a day it will be for the filmmakers, considering the outcome of the Election as it was revealed today!

What it’s about: The film is inspired by and based on the life of Narendra Damodardas Modi, current Prime Minister, (the 14th PM of Independent India) and traces his story from childhood to the day he marches to Delhi to be sworn in as The Prime Minister of the country. It portrays his struggle to make his mark in the business of politics, without money or status, coming as he did from humble beginnings, but purely on the strength of his ‘incredible’ character! The film was shot entirely in Uttarkashi and Gujarat.

Yay: Vivek Anand Oberoi as PM Narendra Modi not just looks the part due to some excellent make-up by Preetisheel Singh, but lives the role perfectly, that you barely glimpse the actor. You only see Modi. Everything from his body language to his tonal inflections and posture and gait have been worked on perfectly. Zarina Wahab as his mother plays her part with emotion and stoicism, creating a poignant relationship between her and her son. Manoj Joshi is also highly effective in his role resembling Amit Shah. Mukesh Chhabra and his team have cast perfectly the entire bunch of actors, both, in terms of looks as well as performances. Prashant Narayanan as Adityavarma Reddy, the scheming industrialist walking the corridors of power and politics is also effectively played. And oh yes, Boman Irani was brilliant in a 5 minute cameo as Sir Ratan Tata.

Also, the part about Narendra Modi’s early life before he joined the RSS, when he goes north to the Himalayas in search of his self and purpose is nicely done. Thanks to some good cinematography by Sunita Radia.

Nay: The film is ‘oh so paint me pink’ (can’t even say that without being politically incorrect) – an out-and-out propaganda vehicle, that glorifies Modi, absolves him of all things negative that he was accused of, even going so far as to show him as a  victim of political games and opposition tactics when it came to the Godhra riots. It is blatantly obsequious and smarmy in parts. Claiming to use material from three existing books on the man, one is doubtful about how far they have stretched the truth. It is Narendra Modi the perfect child, the ideal and idealistic youngster, growing into the Karmayogi and ‘asli mard’ to take over the chair In Delhi – all too golden. Dr Manmohan Singh’s caricature came across in bad taste. And the moments of bombastic and dramatic sweeping jibes taken at near everyone opposing the man ring completely hollow- making it laughable.  And yes, the chai making scene in the halls of the ministry!

The rest of this Omung Kumar directed feature, leaves you still wishing to know what metal, not mettle, the Prime Minister is made of really. The film is jointly produced by Anand Pandit, Suresh Oberoi, Acharya Manish and Sandip Ssingh. Vivek Oberoi has also been given credit as co-writer of screenplay and dialogues for the story, along with Anirudh Chawla, and Harsh Limbachiyaa. Story credit has Sandeep Ssingh’s name.

CineBlitz Verdict: Narendra Modi Bhakts may predictably throng the theatres after today’s sweeping victory. Since the makers have made it with the utmost sincerity, watch it. But don’t be surprised if you emerge from the cinema hall, sputtering and incredulous at the sheer nerve of this portrayal. We are sure it’s had the blessing of the PM though. It could truly indulge a megalomaniac. All those cinematic liberties in the disclaimer at the beginning have been fully exercised, and calculatingly used. This one is for the believers!

Rating: 2.5 stars

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India’s Most Wanted Review: Arjun Kapoor makes a sincere attempt, but the film fails to pack in a punch

India’s Most Wanted Review: Inspite of Arjun Kapoor’s earnest performance, the Raj Kumar Gupta directorial falls short of making it to the must-watch list

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Star Rating:

Bollywood has been dishing out some really high doses of patriotic fervor for quite some time now. And filmmakers have clearly been milking this sentiment to the max at the box office. Raj Kumar Gupta’s latest big screen offering, India’s Most Wanted starring Arjun Kapoor is yet another one joining these ranks. The film undoubtedly rides high on patriotism, but does it ride high enough to become worth a watch? Read on to find out:

What India’s Most Wanted is all about: India is rocked by several serial blasts that take place across the country within a span of three years (2008-2010). However, India’s top intelligence agencies are absolutely clueless about who the mastermind behind them is. This faceless terrorist is just referred to as the ‘Ghost’ or ‘India’s Osama’. Intelligence department’s Patna-based field officer Prabhat (Arjun Kapoor) gets a call from a source hinting that India’s Most Wanted terrorist aka Ghost may be hiding in Nepal. Prabhat is one of those officers who wouldn’t bat an eyelid before dying for the country. So, when the agent is refused any kind of help or support from the department heads in Delhi, he along with his team of four other officers, pool in their personal savings to make the trip across border and catch the dreaded terrorist in a covert mission aided by his immediate senior played by Rajesh Sharma. In this mission he is also joined by five more undercover cops.

While in Nepal, they find themselves in danger not only from radicals, but also ISI agents who are active and hot in their pursuit. Prabhat and his team find themselves alone on this risky operation with not even a weapon to protect them and no technical or financial support. Do they succeed in this mission and how is what the film is all about.

Yay: There’s no mistake that the film has its heart and intentions in the right place, even if it lacks the brilliance in execution. Arjun Kapoor, who skips the herogiri to keep it all real, is one of the best things about the film. Like, there’s a scene where he is chased by three guys. Instead of turning around and beating them up, he is shown to return to his hotel room, panting and out of breath! Though the story and narrative fail to lift his performance much, Arjun’s sincere and earnest efforts do come across easily. We do hope the actor gets more roles that would do justice to his acting caliber of which he shows bright sparks.

Arjun in his efforts is ably supported by Rajesh Sharma, who proves that you don’t have to be a hero to shine in a movie. The slack pace of the story takes a toll on pretty much the entire scope for the actors to perform, but the rest of the cast also does a good job anyway.

Another strong point about the film is that it is minus any dramatic frills and bereft of heavy dialogue-baazi or jingoism that would weigh it down. Full credit to the director Raj Kumar Gupta for this! The director also translates the red–tapism of our system effectively on screen. The film has been shot well and has a realistic feel.

Nay: The narrative fails to allow the film to reach the zenith of that patriotic fervor where you would oversee the loopholes in the film’s story and instead focus on wanting Arjun to find and take down the baddie. So while you see yourself cheer for Team India, the excitement does not set in until the last half an hour of the film.

Also the narrative is punctuated so often by scenes of actual blasts followed by the same music playing each time, that to be honest it seemed forced. As a result, they lose their shock value as well as emotional sentiment! The ‘Ghost’s’ sermons following these blasts scenes feel like such a drag that you wish Arjun would take him down quicker to save us and spare us the horror of hearing his monologues over and over again.

The film needed to be tighter in the first half and more gripping in the second. The music is barely noticeable otherwise. The Vande Matram song is the only time that the music scores high.

CineBlitz Verdict: Although not bad for a one-time watch, overall India’s Most Wanted lacked that punch which would have otherwise easily made it a must-watch film! Predictable in most parts, the film does have its high moments, but they are too few and far in between. As a director who has given us films like No One Killed Jessica and Raid, Gupta lets us down here. The performances and some thrilling moments in the second half however make it worth a watch. Also watch it as an ode to the country’s unsung heroes and that dash of patriotism and you won’t be disappointed.

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Aladdin review: The Will Smith-starrer is a delightful summer treat and a perfect family-entertainer

Aladdin review: Guy Ritchie’s retelling of the age-old famous Arabian folktale – starring Will Smith as the Genie – will transport you to a world of love, friendship, fantasy and magic!

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Star Rating:

A whole new worldMena Massoud as Aladdin and Naomi Scott as Jasmine sing the mesmerisingly beautiful romantic number from Disney’s 1992 animated film Aladdin, as they take a magic carpet ride together, discovering true love for each other. Director Guy Ritchie’s live-action remake of the much-loved animated film however doesn’t take you to any new world! Instead, the director sticks to recreating the old world magic of the original to the T and that’s the biggest draw to watch this film that stars Will Smith as the Genie. So is Guy Ritchie’s live-action remake better than the original? Read on to find out:

What Aladdin is all about: ‘Street rat’ Aladdin is a petty thief whose best buddy and partner-in-crime is his pet monkey Abu. Unknowingly, Aladdin falls for Jasmine, the princess of Agrabah. The Sultan’s wicked and power-hungry Vizier sends Aladdin to retrieve an old lamp for him from a magical cave. After finding himself trapped in the cave, Aladdin rubs the lamp only to find himself become the master of a three-wish granting Genie. How the good-hearted Aladdin goes about winning Princess Jasmine’s love with the help of the Genie and defeats the evil Vizier forms the crux of the story.

Yay: The story may be old, but Jasmine’s yearning to prove her worth as an able ruler and her feisty spirit that refuses to give in and bow down just because she’s a girl still resonates strongly with women even today. What also resonates even today is our fascination for a fantasy world where carpets can fly and rubbing lamps releases Genies. Well, director Guy Ritchie taps all this beautifully to recreate Disney’s animated film Aladdin (1992).

The humour-laced film has all the strong messages of the original in place without being preachy of course. What we loved the most was that the live-action retelling stays true – right through the film – to the original, so at no point do we feel short-changed. Whether it was a bid by the makers to play it safe or intentionally not to mess with a Disney classic, the move works in the film’s favour.

Will Smith as Genie gets our thumbs up! Naomi Scott shines through as Jasmine and Mena Massoud brings in the certain innocent charm of a street-smart Aladdin. The chemistry between Jasmine and Aladdin, carpet and Abu, Dalia and the Genie are all amazing to watch and leave you smiling.

The film aces in several departments right from the direction to the musical scores to the costumes and the CGI effects to the lavish and gorgeous set-ups. We loved the strong and impressive rendition of ‘Speechless’. You find yourself transported just as believably to the dusty streets of Agrabah as easily as you find yourself looking up at the magnificent palaces. The chase sequences are stunningly shot. There’s nothing over-the-top or anything that strikes you as out of place here.

The result is the story being told in the most entertaining and visually-appealing cinematic form. Adults will find themselves revisit their childhood and the children get introduced to a whole new world of love and magic.

Nay: Even in such a well-made film, unfortunately, there’re things that feel like a bit of a let-down! Merwan Kenzari as Jafar, frankly wasn’t convincingly evil or menacing enough to make for a formidable adversary. Iago, the macaw who played such an important character in the original was not explored onscreen as much as we would have liked it to be. Though Will Smith as Genie was an absolute treat, it somehow felt that the makers have not made him do complete justice to the character. Whether it was the dialogues or the CGI, but Will Smith felt a bit under-used here.

But what made us cringe were the dance sequences. While we understand that the Bollywoodish song and dance may tickle Hollywood’s exotic fantasies about faraway lands, for the Indian audience, it doesn’t do a thing. In fact, the execution looks worse than the level of performances one gets to see in reality dance shows here. Also in some scenes, the entire production value looks more suited for a broadway musical than a majestic film. Also the 3D effects are not used to create much of an impact.

CineBlitz Verdict: Guy Ritchie’s Aladdin makes for a fantastic family-viewing! It’s entertaining and it will take you to a world that’s magical and fantastical. A must-watch for kids! They will simply love watching the much-loved story being told on the big screen in such an entertaining way. A perfect summer treat, the film will bring a smile to your faces and you will find yourself humming along the songs with Jasmine and Aladdin!

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